Review Summary: Modern Classic, Vegas style.
Well I’ll admit I haven’t spent much time with My Morning Jacket I can’t say it’s had any effect on the memory of how I felt when my buddy came over to my Apartment and threw on Regions of Light and Sound of God; the first solo outing from the above mentioned group’s frontman Jim James. It was just too musical and interesting. Sixties, Vegas style; a full produced sound of classic jazz infused themes. Vocals that could reach wherever they pleased and then lyrics that delve on something modern, more personal and closer to the heart. Bold statements, yeah; but this album really is something quite cohesive.
A lot of these songs have a great underlying beat to move around to. Nothing feels uninspired and the short-but-sweet album feels carefully constructed throughout. It seems many groups of 2012 and 2013 have been finding success in infusing classic styles with modern production sensibilities; bands like Submotion Orchestra, Niechec and recently re-acknowledged God-like influence Portishead have demonstrated this. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to draw direct comparisons between Jim James and the above artists but it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume James was very aware of this direction in undertaking this LP. The nice thing about saying all of this though is also being able to say that Regions of Light and Sound of God is a much lighter and more accessible affair. ‘State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U)’ ushers in the album with style and flair and keeps the momentum going through ‘Know ‘til Now’ eventually reaching the climax of ‘Actress’. These songs feel inspired yet wholly fresh.
If there was one thing that stood out in my brief time spent with My Morning Jacket it’s that there’s no denying the singing talent of James, even if his voice may be a little too nasally for some nit-pickers. It’s interesting then that this album feels much smaller in scale both in terms of energy and James’ vocal performance. It’s not underwhelming to any degree but Regions of Light and Sound of God is much more compact, focused and personal. In this, fans of the more bombastically alternative My Morning Jacket might be put off by this effort. It sort of reminds me of Anberlin’s Stephen Christian and his solo project Anchor & Braille in that the album feels like a project; something aside and very different from the source band. It’s an unassuming album in its ability to make you feel something yet never really force it upon you.
Anyone who enjoys alternative and then your parents will enjoy this album; it’s just that contagious. All the while some strange ringing modern message swims off the words James sings in ‘God’s Love to Deliver’ lost deep in the sandy ruins of ‘All is Forgiven’. It’s just another great example of where new music sensibilities are leading towards and so for I’m absolutely loving it. Definitely check this out.